People often think reportage photography is new and that it is the latest must-have. In truth it has always been popular, it’s just the development in digital cameras had made it a lot cheaper to do. When I first started as a wedding photographer, I used medium format cameras. They used a much larger negative which resulted in fantastic quality with pin-sharp wedding photographs. On the downside, you only got 12 photographs from a roll of film and the cameras were manual focus and slow to use. This did mean most of the photographs taken with these cameras were posed and a little more on the formal side.
So, to enable us to get some reportage natural wedding photographs we would use a 35mm SLR camera alongside the medium format camera. Often the camera would be loaded with black and white film. The cameras looked similar to modern DSLR’s, had autofocus and were quick to use. On the downside, the quality was not as good due to the smaller sized 35mm film that was used.
In 2003 I photographed my first wedding with a digital camera. Not as my main camera as I still used the medium format camera for maximum quality. The digital camera instead, replaced the film 35mm camera. It had several advantages over the film camera it replaced. The main one was the cost per wedding, as I could now take many more photographs without incurring the cost of developing the film. Looking back with hindsight, digital cameras did not save me any money at all. A professional film camera would last 20 years and longer if looked after. Since buying my first digital camera in 2003 I have bought 11 more over the years costing £1500 to £5000. This is for two reasons; one they have improved greatly over the years meaning which each new camera I have felt the need to upgrade. The second reason is they do not last anywhere near as long as the old film cameras. This is not because they are not well made, it’s just because of numbers. In the days of film, I may take 50-75 photographs at a wedding whereas now I average around 1000. This allows me to capture the whole wedding day, not just the middle two hours as we often used to in the days of film.
So, the transformation from film to digital has changed the way I work as a wedding photographer. It is a lot more work than it used to be but that’s a whole article for another day. What I will say Is I believe couples today get a far better record of their day including hundreds of wonderful reportage wedding photographs like the ones on this page.